Belfast Telegraph

Shares in Belfast Telegraph owner INM climb by 30% amid potential takeover move

Michael Doorly
Michael Doorly

By Gavin McLoughlin

Shares in Belfast Telegraph publisher Independent News & Media (INM) rose by 30.5% yesterday after it announced an approach from a potential buyer.

The company, which also publishes Sunday Life, told the stock market it had "received an approach in relation to a possible offer for the company".

"Discussions are at a preliminary stage and there is no certainty that any offer will be made, or as to the terms of any such offer," the company said.

It did not name the interested party and would not comment further.

INM is the largest private media group on the island of Ireland. It publishes belfastelegraph.co.uk and nijobfinder.co.uk, and in the Republic the Irish Independent, Herald and Sunday Independent.

Last week it reported profit before tax of €24.1m (£20.7m) for 2018, ahead of market expectations but down 15.4% on the prior year.

INM's total revenue last year was €191m (£163.8m), down 2.1% on the prior year. The business had a cash pile of €81.7m (£70m) at the end of December.

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German group Axel Springer and Norwegian company Schibsted have previously been mentioned as potential buyers of INM, as has Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, which owns the Times and Sunday Times titles and Northern Ireland radio station U105.

Axel Springer, whose titles include Die Welt, Bild and Business Insider, said it did not "comment on market rumours", but reports suggest the firm is not interested in a bid for INM.

Schibsted also refused to be drawn on the news, saying: "In general, we never comment on rumours and speculation about acquisitions, regardless of whether they are true or not."

News Corp subsidiary News UK said it "does not comment on speculation".

INM's biggest shareholder is Digicel chairman Denis O'Brien, who owns 29.9% of the company. Financier Dermot Desmond is the second biggest, owning 15% via his vehicle International Investment & Underwriting.

Last week INM chief executive Michael Doorly said speculation that INM could be a target for takeover by a larger European business was prompted by the company's low share price.

He said there was no indication major shareholders in the business were minded to sell.

INM is moving towards introducing a paid model for some online content, potentially from the end of this year, with revenue from newspaper circulation and total online and print advertising falling last year.

Shares in Belfast Telegraph publisher Independent News & Media (INM) rose by 30.5% yesterday after it announced an approach from a potential buyer.

The company, which also publishes Sunday Life, told the stock market that it had "received an approach in relation to a possible offer for the company".

"Discussions are at a preliminary stage and there is no certainty that any offer will be made, or as to the terms of any such offer," the company said. It did not name the interested party and would not comment further.

INM is the largest private media group on the island of Ireland. It also publishes belfastelegraph.co.uk and nijobfinder.co.uk, and in the Republic, the Irish Independent, Herald, and Sunday Independent.

Last week it reported profit before tax of €24.1m for 2018, ahead of market expectations but down 15.4pc on the prior year.

INM's total revenues last year were €191m, down 2.1% on the prior year. The business had a cash pile of €81.7m at the end of December.

German group Axel Springer and Norwegian company Schibsted have previously been speculated about as potential buyers of INM, as has Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, which owns the 'Times Ireland edition' and 'Sunday Times' titles. News Corp also owns Northern Ireland radio station U105.

Axel Springer, whose titles include 'Die Welt', 'Bild' and 'Business Insider' said: "We in general don't comment on market rumours". It's understood not to be interested in a move for INM. Schibsted said: "In general, we never comment on rumours and speculations about acquisitions, regardless of whether they are true or not." A spokeswoman for News Corp subsidiary News UK said it "does not comment on speculation".

INM's biggest shareholder is Digicel chairman Denis O'Brien, who owns 29.9% of INM. Financier Dermot Desmond is the second biggest - he owns 15% via his vehicle International Investment & Underwriting (IIU).

Last week INM chief executive Michael Doorly said speculation that INM itself could be a target for takeover by a larger European media business was prompted by the company's low share price. He said there was no indication major shareholders in the company were minded to sell.

INM is moving towards introducing a paid model for some online content, potentially from the end of this year, with revenue from newspaper circulation and total online and print advertising falling last year.

Belfast Telegraph

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